An Egyptian court has ratified death sentences handed to 21 football fans following riots which killed 74 people last February, sparking protests in Cairo.

Rival fans have united in protest against the sentences, which were announced live on television on Saturday. 28 defendants were acquitted in involvement in the riots which followed a match between rivals Cairo's Al-Ahly and Port Said's Al-Masry, the home side, while 19 others were given jail sentences.

The BBC report that the Port Said stadium security chief Essam Eddin Samak and nine other defendants were sentenced to 15 years in prison for their involvement, six received 10-year sentences, two defendants earned five year sentences, while one received just a 12-month sentence.

A pitch invasion from the home fans instigated clashes between the two groups of fans and police, which caused the death of more than 70 people.

cairo protesters

Protests and riots have broken out after the sentences were ratified on Saturday

The tough sentences, announced in January but not passed until Saturday, caused further rioting, including an attempted storming of the prison holding the accused. Eight people were killed that day, including three policemen.

In anticipation of rioting, police have been mobilised in Port Said but according to the BBC, police in 10 of the 29 Egyptian provinces are striking over being used to fight off protestors and rioters by Mohammed Morsi's government.

Protestors have set fires in the city, including at locations such as a police officers club and the Egyptian Soccer Federation.

Loading Slideshow...
  • An Egyptian flashes the victory sign after several protesters set fire to tires on the city's dock in an attempt to prevent ships from coming in to the strategic city of Port Said at the Mediterranean end of the Suez Canal, in Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. An Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed the death sentences against 21 people for taking part in a 2012 deadly soccer riot but acquitted seven police officials for their alleged role in a trial that has been the source of some of the worst unrest to hit Egypt in recent weeks. (AP Photo/Ahmed Ramadan)

  • Several protesters set fire to tires on the city's dock in an attempt to prevent ships from coming in to the strategic city of Port Said at the Mediterranean end of the Suez Canal, in Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. An Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed the death sentences against 21 people for taking part in a deadly 2012 soccer riot but acquitted seven police officials for their alleged role in a trial that has been the source of some of the worst unrest to hit Egypt in recent weeks. (AP Photo/Ahmed Ramadan)

  • An Egyptian soccer fan of Al-Ahly club raises a banner honoring fellow fans killed in a 2012 stadium riot in the club headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. An Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed the death sentences against 21 people for taking part in a deadly soccer riot but acquitted seven police officials for their alleged role in the violence. Suspected fans enraged by the verdict torched the soccer federation headquarters and a police club in Cairo in protest. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • An Egyptian man walks on the grounds of a police officer's club as a fire set by protesters burns in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. An Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed the death sentences against 21 people for taking part in a deadly soccer riot but acquitted seven police officials for their alleged role in the violence, touching off furious protests in Cairo that torched the soccer federation headquarters and a nearby police club.(AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

  • Policemen try to extinguish fire at a police club set by protesters following a court verdict in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. An Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed the death sentences against 21 people for taking part in a deadly soccer riot but acquitted seven police officials for their alleged role in the violence. Suspected fans enraged by the verdict torched the soccer federation headquarters and a police club in Cairo in protest. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • A Christmas tree and damaged furniture are seen at a wedding hall as policemen try to extinguish fire at a police club set by protesters following a court verdict in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. An Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed the death sentences against 21 people for taking part in a deadly soccer riot but acquitted seven police officials for their alleged role in the violence. Suspected fans enraged by the verdict torched the soccer federation headquarters and a police club in Cairo in protest. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • An Egyptian man reacts as he watches a televised court verdict confirming death sentences against 21 people for their role in a deadly 2012 soccer riot, in a coffee shop in Port Said, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Smoke rises from the Egyptian Soccer Federation after protesters set fire following a court verdict, in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. An Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed the death sentences against 21 people for taking part in a deadly soccer riot but acquitted seven police officials for their alleged role in the violence. Suspected fans enraged by the verdict torched the soccer federation headquarters and a police club in Cairo in protest.(AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • An Egyptian soccer fan of Al-Ahly club shouts slogans in front of a banner at showing some pictures of the victims of a 2012 soccer riot, in the club headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. An Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed the death sentences against 21 people for taking part in a deadly soccer riot but acquitted seven police officials for their alleged role in the violence. Suspected fans enraged by the verdict torched the soccer federation headquarters and a police club in Cairo in protest.(AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Egyptian boys help extinguish fire at a police club set by protesters following a court verdict in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. An Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed the death sentences against 21 people for taking part in a deadly soccer riot but acquitted seven police officials for their alleged role in the violence. Suspected fans enraged by the verdict torched the soccer federation headquarters and a police club in Cairo in protest.(AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Smoke rises from the Police Officers Club, left, and the Egyptian Soccer Federation, right, as a police helicopter surveys the scene after protesters set fire following a court verdict in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. Fans of Cairo’s Al-Ahly club have stormed Egypt’s soccer federation headquarters, set it ablaze after a court acquitted seven of nine police official on trial for their alleged part in deadly stadium melee. A fire also broke out Saturday in a nearby police club, but it was not immediately known whether Al-Ahly fans started the blaze there too. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

  • Egyptian soldiers stand guard outside the prison in Port Said, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. An Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed death sentences against 21 people for their role in a deadly 2012 soccer riot that killed more than 70 people in the city of Port Said. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Egyptian policemen at a police club wait to be rescued after protesters set fire following a court verdict in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. An Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed the death sentences against 21 people for taking part in a deadly soccer riot but acquitted seven police officials for their alleged role in the violence. Suspected fans enraged by the verdict torched the soccer federation headquarters and a police club in Cairo in protest. The Cairo tower seen at background. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Smoke billows from a police officer's club from a fire set by protesters in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. An Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed the death sentences against 21 people for taking part in a deadly soccer riot but acquitted seven police officials for their alleged role in the violence, touching off furious protests in Cairo that torched the soccer federation headquarters and a nearby police club.(AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

  • An injured security official is carried from a police officers club in the upscale neighborhood of Zamalek, after protesters set fires following a court verdict in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. Fans of Cairo’s Al-Ahly club have stormed Egypt’s soccer federation headquarters and a nearby police club, and set them ablaze after a court acquitted seven of nine police official on trial for their alleged part in deadly stadium melee. (AP Photo/Mohammed Asad )

  • Smoke and fire rises from the Egyptian Soccer Federation after protesters set fire following a court verdict in, Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. An Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed the death sentences against 21 people for taking part in a deadly soccer riot but acquitted seven police officials for their alleged role in the violence. Suspected fans enraged by the verdict torched the soccer federation headquarters and a police club in Cairo in protest.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

  • Egyptian policemen at a police club wait to be rescued after protesters set fire following a court verdict in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. An Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed the death sentences against 21 people for taking part in a deadly soccer riot but acquitted seven police officials for their alleged role in the violence. Suspected fans enraged by the verdict torched the soccer federation headquarters and a police club in Cairo in protest. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Policemen try to extinguish fire at a police club after protesters set fire following a court verdict in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. Fans of Cairo's Al-Ahly club have stormed Egypt's soccer federation headquarters, set it ablaze after a court acquitted seven of nine police official on trial for their alleged part in deadly stadium melee. A fire also broke out Saturday in a nearby police club, but it was not immediately known whether Al-Ahly fans started the blaze there too. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Egyptians stand watching as smoke rises from a police officers club, left, and the Egyptian Soccer Federation, right, as a police helicopter surveys the scene after protesters set fire following a court verdict in Saturday, March 9, 2013. Fans of Cairo's Al-Ahly club have stormed Egypt's soccer federation headquarters, set it ablaze after a court acquitted seven of nine police official on trial for their alleged part in deadly stadium melee. A fire also broke out Saturday in a nearby police club, but it was not immediately known whether Al-Ahly fans started the blaze there too. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Policemen try to extinguish fire at a police club set by protesters following a court verdict in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, March 9, 2013. Fans of Cairo's Al-Ahly club have stormed Egypt's soccer federation headquarters, set it ablaze after a court acquitted seven of nine police officials on trial for their alleged part in deadly stadium melee. A fire also broke out Saturday in a nearby police club, but it was not immediately known whether Al-Ahly fans started the blaze there too. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)